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Wenlock and Essex

18–26 Essex Road, Islington, London N1 8LN

Part gastro pub, part club, this friendly Islington nightspot, in an unremarkable modern development, targets itself successfully towards relaxed under-30s happy to drink, eat, and hang out in the same place all evening. Its bordello-circus-Moulin Rouge feel, all plush reds, coloured lightbulbs and gilt trimming, is at its most intense in the clubby backroom they call Satan’s Circus- a DJ zone on Friday and Saturday nights. Things are more pub-like in the spacious area at the front, with booths and larger tables – and old-school pub carpet – as well as space on the pavement outside. The food – basic stuff, including sandwiches and fish and chips – is generally good. It’s well worth coming for the Sunday roast, where the portions are huge (half a chicken per person, for example). Cocktails are good value at £7 – try the killer Bloody Marys – and there’s a vast list of other drinks including real ales and bottled lagers. You’ll need to book to get a table at weekends, and expect to see bouncers on duty outside too; it's more easy-going during the week.

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